Yesterday, Pastor Byron continued our series on Spiritual Warfare. He focused on engaging in spiritual warfare in the marketplace. To hear Pastor Byron’s message, go here (10-20-19). Today, I’d like to briefly reflect on two accounts of St. Paul in the book of Acts.
When talking of marketplaces, we could be referencing our areas of employment, businesses we patronize, or any public forum. Most of us won’t be standing on a soapbox preaching the Gospel. Moreover, our interactions in the public arena tend to be more subtle. However, that doesn’t discount spiritual activities in the public. Everyday, there are spiritual forces at work in public environments. From our favorite business’ ethics to the internal state of customer service employees, the spiritual world is active.
St. Paul and the Fortune Teller
Before we get into the account of Paul and the fortune teller in Philippi, it is worthwhile to talk about the hold spiritual forces have on unbelievers. Those not under the Lordship of Christ are subject to the whims of Satan and his angels. It is easy for dark spirits to influence by tugging on their base desires. In the marketplace, greed is the root of all kinds of evil. It is easy for individuals to gloss over unethical practices in their business so long as the profits increasing. A lot of compromises happen for the promise of a fatter wallet.
If someone involved threatens to expose unethical practices, supporters of the status quo will use threats, intimidation tactics, and even violence to silence them. Their voice is too dangerous to be heard.
That’s what we see with St. Paul in Acts 16:16-21. Paul cast out the evil spirit that gave a young slave girl fortune teller abilities. He wasn’t initially going to do it. However, she kept following them around bringing unwanted attention to them in what seems like a derogatory way. After a few days of putting up with he, he cast out the spirit.
The owners’ biggest concern with the ordeal was their loss of revenue (v.19). They weren’t happy that Paul did a just and right thing by casting out an evil spirit. They were angry that his just actions hurt their pocketbook. So they used threats and violence against them in retaliation.
Paul and the Sorcerer
In Acts 13, Paul’s team had traveled to Paphos. There they encountered a Jewish sorcerer named Elymas (a.k.a. Bar-Jesus). Word of their message and deeds reached the proconsul of the area, who invited them to come speak. While speaking with the proconsul, Elymas was trying to sway him away from Paul. At one point, Paul asserts that Elymas was lying and speaking against the Most High God. Being a Jew, Elymas knew the gravity of Paul’s words. Then Paul speaks blindness to Elymas for a period of time. When Elymas was stricken blind, the proconsul believed Paul and converted.
Like the account of the fortune teller, Paul’s exchange with Elymas was a spiritual power encounter. The fortune teller’s owners were about their pocketbook. Even though she was bound by a spirit. Elymas was accustomed to influence because of his sorcery. He used his sorcery to wield influential power over the proconsul and others.
Paul ended that through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s dedication to the Gospel meant that he would preach it no matter what. The Holy Spirit backed Paul by silencing the sorcery and deceptive speech of Elymas. The sorcorer’s blindness convinced the proconsul to become a follower of Jesus. The power of God prevails when he is lifted up. It is easy to forget the unseen war that rages. Like in all wars, there are casualties. Those who partner with the demonic subject to the fallout of war. So are Christians who encounter Anti-Christ regimes.
These are examples of Paul engaging in spiritual warfare in the marketplace. The influence we wield through the Holy Spirit can change atmospheres and bring to light ungodliness, be it demonically inspired or human wickedness.Battles in the unseen realm aren’t always as obvious as Elymas and the fortune teller. But divine exchanges are happening when we lift up the light of Christ in a dark Christless world.
Wherever we go, we bring the presence of Jesus with us. If we stay “prayed up” and maintain our walk with God, we can walk in greater spiritual power. We may or may not “feel” spiritually powerful. Our feelings are not indicators of the power we walk in. That is rooted in who we are in Christ.
I hope today’s post encourages you this week to experience God’s